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Entries in Thomas Erdbrink (5)


The Latest from Iran (30 May): Pressure, Counter-Pressure, & a Letter from Majid Tavakoli

1800 GMT: Academic Corner. HRANA reports that 15 students at Shahid Beheshti University have been suspended for criticism of the Supreme Leader.

1755 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The sentence of Zia Nabavi, a member of the Right to Education Council, has been reduced to 10 years from 15 years on appeal.

1750 GMT: Economy Watch. Reformist member of Parliament Darius Ghanbari has warned that if disinvestment, excessive imports and loss of domestic production continue, Iran will have 60 million (out of a population of 75+ million) below the poverty line. MP Nasrullah Torabi has called on the Government to be "accountable" to the 40 million he says are already below that line.

NEW Iran Report: The Fight on the Cultural Front (Erdbrink)
Iran Document: Mousavi “Greens Will Not be Stopped by Arrests, Prisons, or Killing”
Iran: A Poem for Executed Teacher Farzad Kamangar
The Latest from Iran (29 May): Statements for 22 Khordad/12 June

1745 GMT: A Clerical Slapdown. Ayatollah Amini, the leader of Friday Prayers in Qom, asked yesterday, "How is it possible to administer for the underprivileged with temporary relief?"

Amini leveled the allegation at the Government that Ayatollah Khomeini's ideas were not considered by persons in charge. Noting that other underdeveloped countries have managed to overcome their difficulties within 30 years. he said an adequate plan should have been established to create work, to develop the cities, and to support universities.

1735 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch --- Inside Version (cont.). Human Rights Activists News Agency carries a story on the alleged aftermath of two videos, released by the agency earlier this week, with accounts of torture and rape by detainees who were in Rajaiee Shahr Prison.

On Saturday, two agents from the Intelligence Ministry transferred twenty prisoners to the Security Office in Rajaiee Shahr prison where they were interrogated and threatened. They also moved Mohsen Beikvand, the victim in one of the videos, to solitary confinement. Unknown men reportedly contacted Bahram Tasviri, the other victim from the videos, and told him that his image and reputation have been shattered outside of prison with the publication of these videos.

(Note: we have not posted the video, which is available in the HRANA story, because we feel it is vital to confirm the authenticity of the story given the serious allegations. Feedback from those who view the video is welcomed.)

1730 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch --- Inside Version. We return from a break to find a purported account of conditions at Evin Prison from detained journalist and filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad. The account includes Nourizad's meeting last week with Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi, who allegedly promised Nourizad's release if the political prisoner and his family gave no statements to the media.

Nourizad, in the letter to the Supreme Leader, calls Evin "the second Kahrizak", a reference to the notorious facility that was closed by Ayatollah Khamenei after revelations of abuses and killings of detainees.

0855 GMT: Earthquake Alarm! Khabar Online reports that women have been seen taking off their hijab, allegedly for sporting activities, in several parks and public spaces in Tehran.

0850 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Bahram Chagini, a university student and a member of the Mousavi presidential campaign, was reportedly arrested by intelligence agents in Arak in mid-May.

0840 GMT: Another Political Prisoner List. Rah-e-Sabz has published another set of names and details of 100 political prisoners in Block 350 of Evin Prison. About 70% are students.

There is one additional name of a journalist, Khashayar Jahanzad Farrokhi, to add to our running total. We estimate that 93 journalists remain in detention or are under threat of heavy bails.

0835 GMT: And Another Cleric is Summoned. Rah-e-Sabz reports that Ahmad Montazeri, the son of the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, has been summoned to and interrogated in a special clerical court.

0830 GMT: Cleric Responds to "Lies". Ayatollah Sane'i has expressed his regret, "Five years ago I said lies were spreading, but I didn't know they were to become a culture."

0820 GMT: Reformist Responds to "Lies". We reported on Friday about  Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting's distortion of the words of reformist activist Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, turning her into a traitor declaring, "Do not accept Iran."

Haghighatjoo has now threatened to file a lawsuit against IRIB and the Supreme Leader, as the head of the broadcaster. She explained that the Green Movement, with its initial slogan "Where is My Vote?", did not want regime change; however, after killings and imprisonments, many doubted that reforms could occur within the system. Haghighatjoo concluded, "I believe that the Constitution must be replaced by a secular system."

0815 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Hashemi Rafsanjani's daughter Faezeh Hasemi has responded to the attack on her office with an unsubtle swipe at the Government. This was not carried by common thieves; it was like a "Mongols attack" to incite terror.

0805 GMT: Parliamentary Moves. Following this week's election of leaders in Parliament, with one Deputy Speaker (Sadr) seen as pro-Ahmadinejad and another (Bahonar) criticised by "hardliners" --- Speaker Ali Larijani and his allies are pushing the line of "Parliamentary unity".

Larijani, quoted by his supporting website Khabar Online, declared that political divisions are not compatible with the Supreme Leader's ideas. Elyas Naderan, a leading critic of the Ahmadinejad Government, predicted that the "political alignment" of pro-goverment and anti-government factions will not persist.

Not all proceeded smoothly for Larijani's move, however: his press conference started 20 minutes late, suffered a blackout, and was suddenly cut off.

0800 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The scholars of the Middle East Studies Association have written to the Supreme Leader, calling for the release of Majid Tavakoli (see 0645 GMT) and other political prisoners.

0700 GMT: The Cultural Front. We have posted, in a separate entry, a report from  Thomas Erdbrink, the Washington Post correspondent in Tehran, on cultural resistance to the Iranian regime.

0645 GMT: A Letter from Tavakoli? There was a lot of chatter yesterday about a purported message from Majid Tavakoli, the detained student leader.

The letter has not been translated into English, but an EA reader wanted to get a sense of Tavakoli's analysis and objectives. So, over to EA correspondent Ms Zahra:
Tavakoli's statement reads like a mix of [prominent Iranian expatriate opposition figure] Mohsen Sazegara's daily lessons about non-violent struggle, parts of Mousavi's statements (esteqamat, perseverance), and expatriate demands for an end to the Islamic Republic.

As I never heard more than short statements by him, no idea if he is the author. If it is not by him, it could be a collective text, written by a reformist theoretician in prison --- I doubt this, however, because in my opinion reformists would never give up the Islamic Republic. It could also be the result of discussions in prison about future strategies for the Green Movement. In any case the phrasing is coherent, i.e., written by a single person.

An excellent text, insisting on the positiveness of the leaders, necessity of positive criticism, unity, fundamental demands like individual freedom and pluralism (to prevent a new dictatorship), clearly defined goals, and strategies of non-violence, along the lines of those set out by the scholar Gene Sharp.

It could also be an implicit reminder to Mousavi and Karroubi to be more definitive in their demands, but it is only advice and does not condemn them.

0630 GMT: We return from a Saturday night break to assess this morning's political situation, five days before the anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Khomeini and less than two weeks before the birthday of the 2009 election.

The regime made a big political move with the announcement that the Supreme Leader, introduced by President Ahmadinejad, will lead Tehran Friday Prayers from Khomeini's mausoleum. Can't be much clearer than this in a bid for legitimacy.

It's the first major regime rally since 22 Bahman (11 February), with Ayatollah Khamenei speaking at Friday Prayers for the first time since 19 June, when he reaffirmed Ahmadinejad's victory, warned the opposition not to challenge, and tried to keep Hashemi Rafsanjani in the fold.

So what were those various actors doing yesterday? Well, opposition figure Mir Hossein Mousavi had made another challenge with his statement to former political prisoners (again, can't get much more pointed in the symbolism than talking with those who had been unjustly detained under the Shah), and reformist groups and activists --- despite the Government's attempt to silence them --- continued to put out declarations of intent before 12 June.

Even more interesting,  however, were the manoeuvres around Rafsanjani. The former President's website issued its own response to the Government by re-issuing Rafsanjani's criticisms of President Ahmadinejad and the Iranian system, both in a letter to the Supreme Leader before the election and in Rafsanjani's 17 July Friday Prayer address (the last time he took the podium).

But the regime was putting out its own message for Rafsanjani this weekend: the office of his daughter Faezeh Hashemi was raided, soon after security forces moved upon the campus of Islamic Azad University --- established by the Rafsanjani Government and led until recently by Rafsanjani's son Mehdi Hashemi --- and seized computers and documents.

What does it all mean? Well, at this point I'll take the easy way out: too soon to tell....

Iran Report: The Fight on the Cultural Front (Erdbrink)

Thomas Erdbrink, one of the few "Western" reporters in Tehran, writes for The Washington Post:

Nearly a year after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed election victory led to wide-scale protests and a fierce government crackdown, members of Iran's thriving and internationally acclaimed cultural scene have emerged as a driving force for the opposition.

Filmmakers, singers and rappers are, in their own way, pushing for social and political changes, and many are paying the price of speaking out against a government that brooks little dissent. In response to films, songs and paintings inspired by the largest grass-roots opposition movement the country has seen since the 1979 Islamic revolution, the government has arrested artists and markedly increased censorship.

Although some artists have left the country to escape restrictions, others remain in Iran and have turned their work into tools of activism. But the protest message has to be subtle or indirect, and even then the work is often produced secretly, using legal loopholes or underground distribution networks to evade the notice of authorities.

When world-renowned director Jafar Panahi decided to make a film about a family caught in the turmoil after last June's election, he did not ask for permission from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. Instead, the filmmaker turned his apartment into a film studio, with his wife cooking for the crew and friends playing the leading characters.

In March, security forces raided the home and arrested Panahi, the cast and his family.

"According to the law, nobody needs permits to film in their own house," he said in an interview. "But the government does not obey its own rules." Panahi was held for nearly three months; top directors such as Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola and Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami called for his release. State media reported that he had been making an "illegal movie."

On Tuesday, Panahi was released on $200,000 bail, pending the start of his trial.

"They arrest individuals to set an example to others," Panahi said Wednesday as his apartment slowly filled with guests, including actors and writers who gave him a hero's welcome. "My interrogators accused me of working for foreign intelligence agencies and said I was trying to make a movie highlighting problems in Iran. But I believe the rights and demands of millions who demonstrated have been ignored. I want to give them a voice."

He isn't the only one. The latest song by popular underground rapper Hich Kas, "Nobody," has become an instant hit, often blasting from cars on Tehran's busy streets. Hich Kas sings:

Good days will come when we do not kill each other

Do not look badly upon each other

A day we are friends and hug each other like in our school days

Read rest of article....

The Latest from Iran (14 May): The Meaning of the Strike?

2035 GMT: Film Corner (cont.). Earlier we reported on the unclaimed chair for the Grand Jury at the opening of the Cannes Film Festival (see 0615 GMT)

The seat was to be filled by Iranian director Jafar Panahi, who had to send this message:
I salute you from my narrow and dark cell in Evin Prison. Unfortunately it is only today that I heard of your valuable efforts [to release me] during the Festival of Cannes....I greet you from here and would like to express my gratitude to all festival organisers for their humanity and decency.

NEW Iran Analysis: The Economic Squeeze and the Real Sanctions Story (Colvin)
UPDATED Iran Video: Strike in Kurdistan (13 May)
Iran Special: Executions, Politics, and the Attack on Nazila Fathi and The New York Times
Iran Transcript: Mousavi “Do Iranian Mothers Have Rights?” (12 May)
Iran Document: A Letter from Majid Tavakoli About the Executed (11 May)
The Latest from Iran (13 May): Justice, Legitimacy, and a Strike in Kurdistan

2030 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. RAHANA reports that Bahman Khodadadi has been missing since Saturday, when he was summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence in Isfahan. The website also claims Azeri civil rights activists Reza Abdi and Alireza Hosseinzadeh were arrested Tuesday in Tabriz.

1945 GMT: The Executions and After. RAHANA offers a useful summary of "The Week in Kurdistan".

1820 GMT: The Oil Squeeze. Rah-e-Sabz reports that because of sanctions, lack of investment, and government mismanagement, oil production dropped by 750,000 barrels (almost 20%) to less than 35. million barrels per day. Sales fell by 450,000 barrels daily, as Saudi Arabia took up more of China's demand for imports.

1812 GMT: The Writing on the Wall. EA's German Bureau brings me this picture of graffiti in Iran. It is from January, but it has a current resonance, I think.

"Execution = End of Islamic Rule".

1750 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. RAHANA reports that Arash Saboonchi, a student activist and member of Mehdi Karroubi’s presidential campaign in Arak in northwest Iran, has been arrested and taken to an unknown location by plainclothes agents.

1725 GMT: Larijani, Nuclear Dealmaker? A whiff of a most important story in Khabar Online, the website connected with Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani. It uses purported remarks from Kazem Jalali of Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission to play up Larijani's role as broker in talks on Iran's nuclear programme:
According to Khabar Online correspondent, [in] the hallway of the Majlis, Kazem Jalali commented on diplomatic positions expressed by Larijani and f negotiations at international summits: "A collective body monitored by the Supreme Council of National Security decides and authorizes the Parliament Speaker to take such measures, given that as a body corporate and senior member of the council, he has a mastery of the standards of the Islamic Republic's diplomacy....

In many instances the international negotiations conducted by the Parliament Speaker are more productive in breaking the impasses

Jalali supposedly added, "We have never excluded the issue of nuclear fuel exchange from our agenda. We are ready to receive fair proposals on the issue and it has been underlined by Iranian officials several times. But I believe that through their mediations Brazil and Turkey can play an important role to resolve the problem. Obviously we will welcome their contribution."

The significance, however, is not just the international dimension, with the further signal that a deal mediated by Brazil or Turkey is a possibility for Tehran. It is also internal: last October the uranium enrichment talks broke down in part because of opposition within Iran.

Larijani, speaking on his behalf or representing the Supreme Leader, was part of that opposition to the President's aspirations. If he is now portraying himself as a factor for a deal, it not only shifts the international equation but also the power equation vs. Ahmadinejad.

1500 GMT: Keep the Children at Home? Khabar Online claims that the children of administration officials are being stopped from studying abroad.

1450 GMT: The Executions and Pressure on Kurdish Teachers. RAHANA reports that Heydar Zaman, Mostafa Sarbazan and Ramin Zandnia, three activists of the Teachers Trade Union in Kurdistan, were summoned to Intelligence Headquarters in Sanandaj. The questioning took place a day after the execution of teacher Farzad Kamangar.

Four other activists of the union were arrested on Sunday and released after long interrogations.

1440 GMT: Friday Prayers Amended (No Sinful Earthquakes But Lots of Bad Hijab). Seems I judged today's Friday Prayer Speaker, Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, too quickly (1300 GMT).

He did have a whip-'em-up line, much better than the G-15 summit and the Tehran Book Fair, for the audience. Apparently a "soft war" against hijab has started in the name of "freedom". Western officials of Satan, who once Reza Shah to get rid of the hijab, are carrying out their subversion by bringing women with "bad hijab" to Qom.

Seddiqi did have to backtrack on his previous big hit of breasts=earthquakes, announcing that sin is not the only reason for natural disasters in the West.

No matter. Looks like Seddiqi's "bad hijab" routine is going down well with the critics: Ayatollah Jannati, the head of the Guardian Council, has given it a round of applause.

1430 GMT: Where's Mahmoud? President Ahmadinejad has delivered a speech in which he announced that God has chosen the Iranian people to promote justice and monotheism on Earth.

1300 GMT: Your Friday Prayer Summary. Last time Hojatoleslam Kazem Seddiqi took the podium for Tehran Friday Prayers, he became a global religious star with his warning that women's breasts can cause earthquakes.

He didn't shake things up as much today. His hook-line of Iran's prominence at the G-15 summit of non-aligned countries just didn't have the same appeal, and he had to fall back on a shout-out for five million people at the Tehran Book Fair showing the culture, civilization and ideals of Iran and its youth.

1155 GMT: The Executions. Nine expatriate and domestic parties and political organisations have called for rallies abroad this Sunday to protest recent executions. Those involved in the call are Republicans, Democratic Party of Kurdistan, Komeleh, Democratic Party of Iran's People, National Front Europe, Feddayin-e Khalq (majority and minority), Provisional Council of Leftist Socialists, and Movement of Democratic and Secular Republicans.

1145 GMT: Cultural Vaccination. Mahmoud Salari, the director of the Tehran Book Fair, has declared that books by famous authors such as Forugh Farrokhzad, Hushang Golshiri, and Sadegh Hedayat are like palm-reading (faal va kafbini). He declared that all books published before 2005 will be removed as a vaccination against "cultural disease", and he said that only religious thinking should be promoted to maintain the honour of the Iranian system (nezam).

It looks like Salari and the Book Fair organisers may have more serious worries than palm-reading, however. Khabar Online publishes a photograph of the state of the booths as the Fair formally opened.

1130 GMT: Interrogation. Kalemeh reports that reformists in Tabriz in East Azerbaijan have been summoned by authorities and questioned for up to four hours on subjects such as the alleged involvement of the "terrorist" Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MKO) in the opposition movement.

1005 GMT: Cultural Jeremiad. Grand Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi has pronounced that, with satellites, the vice of the Internet and its websites swashes from west to east and back. He declared that those moral vices have become political and social, and politicians of the world promote them for their goals.

1000 GMT: Karroubi Watch. Speaking with student activists and the family of the detained Majid Tavakoli, Mehdi Karroubi has declared, "Rest assured that the situation won't remain like this.

0950 GMT: The Executions and the Strike. Nazila Fathi reports in The New York Times:
Iranian Kurds staged one of their largest strikes in recent years, closing shops and bazaars in nearly all Sunni Kurdish cities and towns in eastern Iran to protest the executions of five people, including four Kurdish activists, on Sunday, according to opposition Web sites and witnesses....

Many analysts and opposition figures interpreted the executions on Sunday as a warning that the government would not tolerate protests next month on the election’s first anniversary.

Rah-e-Sabz has a lengthy account of the day in Kurdistan, with a heavy security presence and Kurdistan's largest city Sanandaj and many other towns mostly deserted.

0940 GMT: The Executions and the Opposition. Reporting from Tehran, Thomas Erdbrink of The Washington Post picks up on the political context of last Sunday's execution of five Iranians. He quotes Ali Shakorirad, a leader of the reformist Islamic Participation Front, "The government is trying to create a security atmosphere as a crucial month approaches," and gives the pro-Government counterpoint from "Amir Mohebbian, "Their [opposition] movement has lost steam, and its leaders are disillusioned and hopeless. Those executed were terrorists. They who sympathize with terrorists are terrorists themselves."

Erdbrink also quotes an office clerk, "Fahrzad", who says, "We have all tried to return to normal, but there are killings and arrests. Maybe some are smiling on the outside, but inside we are all still upset."

0745 GMT: Economy Watch. We've posted an analysis from Ross Colvin, "The Economic Squeeze and the Real Sanctions Story".

0625 GMT: The Executions and the Opposition. EA readers may have noted the recent attempt by to deride coverage of Sunday's executions, with the claim that The New York Times showed "pro-Green" bias with the analysis that the hangings might have occurred to deter the opposition from protests on 12 June, the anniversary of the election.

A follow-up to the executions from Kayhan, the "hardline" Iranian newspaper (hat-tip to an EA reader):
The leaders of the recent plots have supported the five terrorists whose hands were stained with the blood of innocent people, and who were executed in Evin prison on May 10th. This shows that these people cannot be expected to retreat, and it would be very naive to believe that they would repent. It is all over now, and no phrase can better describe the plotters’ situation than "some people have joined the anti-Revolution and terrorists camp".

0620 GMT: Subsidy Cuts. President Ahmadinejad has said that his subsidy reduction plan will begin in the second half of the Iranian year, i.e., from late September 2010.

Previous reports said some reductions would be implemented from 21 May.

0615 GMT: Film News. As the 63rd Cannes Film Festival opened, one of the nine chairs for jury members was unclaimed.

Iranian director Jafar Panahi, detained in March, remains in Evin Prison.

0600 GMT: Kurdistan Funeral. A copy of a flyer has been posted which indicates that the service for Farzad Kamangar, executed on Sunday, will be in Mohammad Rasoolollah Mosque tomorrow from 9 to 11 a.m.

0555 GMT: Thursday's Top Comment. "Dissected News" on Twitter: "Only the ghosts of Iran's martyrs seem to be on the (Kurdish) streets."

0545 GMT: The Executions...Aftermath. RAHANA reports that the house of Shirin Alamhouli is surrounded by security forces, who are denying entry to relatives. Iranian authorities reportedly are refusing to let the family bury Alamhouli n a Muslim cemetery because she was a "mohareb" (warrior against God).

0530 GMT: Beyond a doubt, the major story yesterday was the stoppage in Kurdistan, a response to Sunday's execution  of five Iranians, four of them Kurdish. The logistics meant that confirmed news was slow to come out, but the reports, the pictures, and even the videos emerged.

We had asked earlier this week whether the anger and  dismay expressed outside Iran over the executions would be matched by public reactions within the country. We now have an answer --- we will watch how far that answer extends with responses beyond Kurdistan.

Persian2English features a further report, with photos, on yesterday's events.

Latest from Iran (10 May): Will the Executions Matter?

1920 GMT: Protest Videos. We've now posted three videos of today's anti-Ahmadinejad protest at Shahid Beheshti University and a video of a student walkout at Elm-o-Sanat University over the speech of a Government official.

1910 GMT: Executions --- A Correction. An Iranian activist puts out an important note: Mehdi Islamian, one of the five Iranians hung on Sunday, was not a Kurd. Islamian's brother and three other people were convicted of a bombing in Shiraz and accused of connections with monarchists. The activist claims that Islamian's "crime" was money given to his brother.

NEW Latest Iran Video: Protest Against Ahmadinejad at Shahid Beheshti University (10 May)
NEW Iran Background Video: Protest in Kurdistan Over Political Prisoners
Iran: Farzad Kamangar’s Last Letter “Is It Possible to Teach and Be Silent?
Iran First-Hand: Assessing Life and Opinions in Tehran (Majd)
Iran, Meet Kafka: The Web of Internet Censorship Catches All (Farokhnia)
The Latest from Iran (9 May): 5 Iranian Kurds Executed

1900 GMT: Mousavi on the Executions. Mir Hossein Mousavi has issued a statement on Sunday's execution of five Iranian Kurds (English translation):

The sudden execution of five of the citizens of this country without giving any clear explanations regarding their charges, prosecution procedure and trials to the people, is just similar to the unjust trend that in the recent months have led to the surprising sentences for a lot of caring women, men and citizens of our country.

When the Judiciary shifts its position from supporting the oppressed toward supporting authorities and those in power, it is hard to stop people from judging that the judiciary sentences are unjust. How is it that today the courts pass on those who ordered and committed the crimes of Kahrizak Prison, [the attacks on Tehran] University dormitories, Sobhan residence [3], the days of 15th and 20th of June, and Bloody Ashura [27 December], and closed the massive corruption cases before opening them and then suddenly on the eve of the month of Khordaad [June], the month of consciousness and seeking justice, hangs these five individuals with so many unanswered questions? Is this the Alavi [those who follow the first Imam of Shi'a, Imam Ali] justice that you were after?

1625 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani has declared that he still believes the solutions he presented in his Friday Prayer address last July --- the last time he spoke from the Tehran podium --- still provide an exit from the current post-election conflict.

Meeting former governors, Rafsanjani said adherence to the Constitution was the most important basis for "moving forces" towards a resolution.

A reminder of Rafsanjani's 17 July speech, which was accompanied by mass protests against the handling of the post-election conflict by the Government:

The most important thing that has happened is that the trust that brought the people
to vote in such large number is not there anymore.
We need to return this trust.

We all need to follow the law. And I’m talking about the government, the parliament, the Islamic Courts and the security forces.
We need to follow the laws.
All problems can be solved if we only follow the framework of the laws.
We need to create an environment where all sides could come together and discuss their issues.
We need to be able to sit down like brothers and sisters and talk about our differences.
The chance that was given to the Guardian Council of five days to get people together and regain their trust was not used.
That is not there anymore.
But we still have time to unite.

We shouldn’t imprison our own people,
We should let these people return to their homes,
We shouldn’t let our enemies laugh at us because we’ve imprisoned our own people.
We should sit together with mourners,
And we should console them,
And bring them back closer to the system.
We should not be impatient now.

Please do not censor media outlets that have legally obtained permits.
Let them do what they want to do legally.
Allow a peaceful and friendly environment to prosper.
We are all together in the Islamic Revolution,
We’ve all spent years in suffering,
We’ve all given martyrs for the cause of the revolution,
This unity needs to fostered.

I’m hopeful that we will be able to achieve this unity in the future,
And I’m hopeful we will get out of this situation,
Based on the wishes of the people,
And consensus among the leaders.

1500 GMT: The Executions. Education International has issued a statement that it is "deeply troubled to hear reports that Iranian teacher trade unionist Farzad Kamangar was among five people who were summarily executed in secret on 9 May". The International Trade Union Confederation has also condemned the hanging.

1430 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Sixty professors from the Tehran University of Medical Sciences have written to the university's president, calling for the release of medical student Maryam Abbasinejad from prison.

Abbasinejad was arrested a day after Ahmadinejad’s sudden appearance at the university on 1 May. There is no information on her physical condition or the reason behind the arrest.

1420 GMT: Getting Rid of Bad Books. The Supreme Leader, meeting officials of the Islamic Ideology Dissemination Organization, has urged authorities to prevent the publication of books which contradict Iran's religious and cultural values: "The country's cultural atmosphere, especially in the field of book publishing, should be protected as there are some who seek to distort history and spread issues which are against our values."

Ayatollah Khamenei's remarks come after reports that the Tehran Book Fair barred works by figures such as Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, a hero of the Islamic Revolution, Grand Ayatollah Sane’i, and Grand Ayatollah Montazeri. (Press TV notes simply, "The meeting [with the IIDO] comes as the Iranian capital of Tehran is hosting an international book fair which runs until May 15.")

1415 GMT: "Hardline" Editor Acquitted. Hossein Shariatmardari, the editor of the "hardline" Kayhanhas been acquitted by a Tehran court of all charges of libel, brought by, amongst others, activists such as Shirin Ebadi and Shadi Sadr and journalist Emaduddin Baghi.

1410 GMT: Maziar Bahari, Master Criminal. An EA correspondent reports that Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari was today, in absentia, has been given a sentence of 13 years imprisonment and 74 lashes by the Revolutionary Court of Tehran. This is the longest jail term imposed on a journalist in the post-election conflict.

Bahari was detained in Iran for four months after the election but was released in October. He returned to the United States, although he still has family in Iran.

1345 GMT: Kicking Out the Oil Companies (This Time We Mean It). Iran has issued a new two-week ultimatum to Royal Dutch Shell and the Spanish company Repsol after the expiry of a previous ultimatum last month.

Referring to long-standing contracts for development of natural gas fields, Reza Kasaiezadeh, director of the National Iranian Gas Export Company, said, "The oil ministry has now issued an ultimatum to Shell and Repsol, holding them responsible to determine the situation surrounding contracts on South Pars phases 13 and 14 over a period of two weeks."

On Saturday, Minister of Oil Masoud Mirkazemi had threatened that Iran will expel foreign firms for delaying development, but he did not a specific company. Shell, citing the prospect of Western sanctions, suspended operations in South Pars earlier this year.

1210 GMT: What Demonstrations? Islamic Republic News Agency has posted an article on President Ahmadinejad's speech at Shahid Beheshti University praising Iran's "astonishing speed of scientific progress". Nothing, however, on the student demonstration that greeted news of the visit.

1155 GMT: MediaWatch. Non-Iranian media are gradually picking up on the significance of Sunday's executions. The BBC has now posted a short article, and The Guardian of London goes further with references to demonstrations (although the newspaper's story, "Kurds to protest after Iran executions", misses the fundamental point that many Iranians who are not Kurdish may be demonstrating and linking the hangings to wider post-election issues of injustices and abuses).

1150 GMT: Silent Demonstrations at Universities? Rah-e-Sabz writes that silent protests against the executions of the Iranian Kurds are planned for Wednesday and Thursday at Tehran University.

1140 GMT: We've posted two claimed videos of a protest against President Ahmadinejad's visit to Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran.

1000 GMT: Add Toronto to the list of cities where protests took place against Sunday's executions.

0810 GMT: Mousavi "An Enemy of God". Gholam-Hossein Elham, a member of the Guardian Council, has reportedly said that Mir Hossein Musavi is a "mohareb" (enemy of God).

Elham, quoted by Fars News from a speech at a university, would be the most significant Government official so far to make the allegation --- which carries the death penalty under Iranian law --- against Mousavi.

0800 GMT:  Diversion? Amidst the uproar over the execution of five Iranian Kurds as enemies of the state, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has tried to hammer home the themes of Iran's defence against foreign-supported "terrorism". Speaking at the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Turkey, Larijani claimed direct US backing and involvement of groups operating out of Pakistan.

Larijani's comments are made in the context of the recent capture of Abdolmalek Rigi, the leader of the Baluch insurgent group Jundullah.

0700 GMT: MediaWatch. Nazila Fathi writes in both the print and versions of The New York Times this morning about the execution of the five Iranians, taking the line: "Although the authorities announced that the five people executed Sunday had been found guilty of carrying out fatal bomb attacks, the executions were widely seen as intended to discourage people from rallying against the government on June 12 [the anniversary of the Presidential election."

The Washington Post has a shorter, muddled Web-only piece by Thomas Erdbrink. For some reason, the article distinguishes between the hangings of four of the Kurds and the execution of Mahdi Islamian, leading to the distorted headline, "Reported executions of four Kurds could increase tensions in Iran". The report is largely drawn from the account of Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency, so there is no consideration of wider political issues.

0630 GMT: Nuclear Front. In advance of the visit by Brazilian and Turkish leaders to Iran which may signal a brokering of an uranium enrichment deal, Tehran has restated its willingness to reach an arrangement.

The head of Iran'a atomic energy organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi, told reporters, "Some countries have been seeking to impose a series of conditions on Iran, but our condition is receiving concrete assurances."

Salehi continued, "Our stance toward the nuclear fuel swap has not changed. We will give 3.5 percent enriched uranium and receive 20 percent enriched fuel. Our purpose (of continuing negotiations with the West) is to give the Western countries an opportunity to save face and find a way out of the current situation."

0515 GMT: Crackdown on Kurdish Teachers. An Iranian activist reports that four leading members of the Kurdestan Teachers Union were arrested by Iranian intelligence on Sunday.

0500 GMT: It has been a long time since a single story from Iran galvanised reaction outside the country. Iranians and activists throughout the world responded with sadness and fury to the Sunday morning news that five Iranians --- Farzad Kamangar, Ali Heydarian, Farhad Vakili, Shirin Alamhouli, and Mehdi Eslamian --- had been executed for alleged bombings and/or membership of the Kurdish organisation PEJAK. Demonstrations took place in London, Berlin, Paris, Milan and Hamburg, with dozens arrested at the French rally.

But what will the response be inside Iran? Will the hangings provoke public anger or will any display be muted? We have posted video of a demonstration in Sanandaj in Kurdistan in July 2008 over detentions, including that of Farzad Kamangar, who was hung on Sunday. Families of the executed reportedly called for a protest in front of Tehran University at 11 a.m. local time (0600 GMT).

The Latest from Iran (5 May): "Protest is Not Provocation"

2025 GMT: Locked in Iran. Activists are reporting that Mohammad Sadeghi, a member of the central branch of the alumni association Advar-e Tahkim Vahdat, has been banned from leaving the country.

2015 GMT: Labour Watch. Iran Labor Report offers a full summary of the recent pressure upon the Free Assembly of Iranian Workers with threat, arrests, and interrogations by Iranian security forces.

2010 GMT: Humour Failure. Update on the Bin Laden In Tehran, No, He's in Washington, DC story: looks like the US State Department doesn't realise that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was having a bit of a joke with his American interviewer.

NEW Iran Follow-Up: Ahmadinejad “Bin Laden Lives in Washington DC!”
NEW A Female Detainee in Iran: “Stripped by the Basiji”
Iran Video and Transcript: Ahmadinejad on Charlie Rose (3 May)
Iran Document: Mehdi Karroubi “The Movement Has Spread Everywhere”
Iran: Bin Laden Lives in Tehran Shocker!
The Latest from Iran (4 May): Beyond the “Main Event”

1930 GMT: Maryam Abbasinejad, the former secretary of the reformist Islamic Association at Tehran University, was arrested by security forces on 1 May. The detention followed protests by students against President Ahmadinejad’s speech on campus.

One week after their arrests, there is still no information on the condition of Alireza Hashemi, the secretary general of the Iranian Teachers Organization, Ali Akbar Baghbani, the secretary general of the Teachers Trade Union, and Mohamoud Beheshti Langarudi, the spokesman of the Teachers Trade Union.

1400 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Vahid Talai, a member of Mir Hossein Mousavi’s legal team, has been arrested.

Ali Tajernia, a former member of Parliament and leading member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, has been imprisoned again. Tajernia was arrested shortly after the June 2009 election and subsequently sentenced to six years in prison plus 70 lashes . The sentence was reduced to a year after appeal.

1225 GMT: Media Moment of the Day. Did you think that news couldn't get more absurd after Fox News's pseudo-story "Bin Laden in Tehran", which we took apart yesterday?

Well, you hadn't counted on a prominent American anchorman taking the story so seriously that he would try and spring it on President Ahmadinejad. We've got the lurid tale, complete with Ahmadinejad's response, in a separate entry.

0825 GMT: Oil and the Revolutionary Guard. Thomas Erdbrink writes in The Washington Post:
Taking advantage of the very sanctions directed against it, Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps is assuming a leading role in developing the country's lucrative petroleum sector, Western oil executives and Iranian analysts say.

The Guard's engineering companies, replacing European oil firms that have largely abandoned Iran, have been rewarded with huge no-bid contracts.

0805 GMT: A Deal on Uranium? We wrote on Monday about President Ahmadinejad's New York adventure:
There is a chance that, behind the scenes, there may be some meaningful manoeuvring over the “third-party enrichment” proposal for Iran’s uranium stock, given the presence at an international gathering of brokers (Turkey, Brazil), the “5+1″ powers taking up the issue (Britain, France, China, Russia, Germany, and, most significantly, the US), and Iranian officials.

Well, well. Fars News is now reporting that, in a meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has announced "agreement in principle" to Brazil mediating a deal on uranium enrichment.

But, and we ask the question for the 484th time, can the exchange of Tehran's current uranium stock for 20%-enriched fuel take place outside Iran?

0755 GMT: Curbing the Lawyers? Iranian lawyers have warned that new regulations threaten the independence of the Bar Association.

0745 GMT: Economy Watch. Rah-e-Sabz claims a "worker's crisis" in the cities of Tehran, Kerman, and Eslamshahr with the closure of plants, including a major tyre manufacturer and a ceramics factory. The site claims that some workers have not been paid for six or seven months.

0710 GMT: Corruption Watch. The head of Iran's armed forces, General Hossein Firouzabadi, has given this "reassurance": there are less than 1000 corrupt people in the Government and Iranian administration.

0700 GMT: Surprise of the Day --- Conservative Turns Reformist? Leading conservative member of Parliament Ali Motahari was speaking at Tehran University yesterday and, if Rah-e-Sabz is to be believed, was sounding distinctly un-conservative.

Motahari allegedly said that one has to distinguish the behaviour of the Government and even clerics from "Islam", and he asserted that the velayat-e-faqih (Supreme Leader) has to be elected and only be an observer of politics. ,

And more: Motahari supposedly argued that the regime should have given the people the right to protest last summer and state media should have broadcast the demonstrations, that dissident professors should be allowed to teach at universities, and that the judiciary is not independent.

Motahari did apparently tip his hat to the party line with the claim that, while Ahmadinejad played a role in the election uproar, Mousavi carries an even greater responsibility.

0630 GMT: The Female Detainee's Story. We have posted in a separate entry the account of an Iranian woman detained on 11 February, "Stripped by the Basiji".

0515 GMT: The Ahmadinejad sideshow in New York trundles on. Having "run circles around" around Charlie Rose of the US Public Broadcasting Service, as an EA reader aptly put it (note to Mr Rose: you might want to hire a researcher on Iran's internal situation before Mahmoud drops by on his next promotional tour), Ahmadinejad offers a shorter interview to Al Jazeera English.

Hopefully, the immediate media temperature over the media will drop, so we'll venture back to Tehran's internal matters and related issues. As Farnaz Sanei of Human Rights Watch dared to note during the furour over Ahmadinejad at the United Nations: "The focus on that potential danger [of Tehran's nuclear programme] should not obscure the fact that thousands of people are currently experiencing not just a threat of violence from the Iranian government, but the everyday dispensing of it."

UK Deportation Postponed

Britain's deportation of Bita Ghaedi, the Iranian woman who fled because of alleged domestic abuse and claimed she would be persecuted on return to Tehran, has been delayed by judicial action. Both the UK High Court and the European Court of Human Rights ordered a halt to the process.

Ghaedi had been put on a flight for Iran from London today. Now she will face an oral hearing on 21 July; her attorney is petitioning for bail.

Khatami: "The Plaintiffs and Defendants Should Change Place"

More on Mohammad Khatami's comments to former members of Parliament yesterday: the former President insisted that "protest is not provocation" and said, ""We should not raise any charges against the protesters. I am sure, if the judicial system correctly performs its functions, then the plaintiffs and defendants will change place."

Khatami noted, "The parties and groups are not allowed to operate and their activities are limited. They face the threat of closure and the newspapers are just closed. Which of these steps corresponds to the constitution?"

Top Reformist Arabsorkhi Released

Feizollah Arabsorkhi, a leading member of the reformist Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution, has been released on bail. Arabsorkhi, arrested in June, had been freed briefly for Iranian New Year but then returned to Evin Prison.

Cracking Down on the Students

Deutsche Welle posts a feature article on Iranian student protest and the attempt by authorities to suppress it through detentions and lengthy prison sentences.